A small ranch with few acres will require a dog that stays close to home and refrains from wandering off of the limited property. Because livestock is raised on a ranch, the dog should also be highly trainable and able to work around livestock without chasing or harassing it. Most breeds that are suitable for ranch life will work well around a small amount of livestock as well as they will around a large herd of livestock.
A border collie is considered to be an extremely intelligent canine. A loyal and hard working animal, the border collie is a herding dog and can be trained to herd sheep, cattle or ducks. Because they can be trained to work multiple types of animals, the border collie is well suited to a small ranch that has a variety of livestock. They are a medium-sized breed, standing between 18 inches and 22 inches and come in a variety of coat types and colors.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
One of the shorter herding breeds, the corgi is characterized by short, stout legs on a long body with pointed ears and a short tail. Most corgis stand between 10 inches and 12 inches. It is considered an intelligent and people oriented breed. Due to its size and short legs, the corgi is best suited to a small ranch where the distances traveled to work stock is not as great as it might be on a larger ranch.
Another herding dog, the Australian shepherd has a medium length, thick coat and comes in a variety of colors. This all-around breed stands between 18 inches and 23 inches tall. It is strong and fast and is considered a well-rounded, loyal farm and family dog. This versatile breed can carry out a variety of jobs including herding, home protection and companionship, eliminating the need for multiple dogs on a small ranch.
This large, extremely strong dog is bred to protect livestock. While they are typically friendly, easy-going dogs, when confronted with a predator, they will defend their flock effectively against wolves, coyotes and even bears. The great pyrenees has a very thick, white or off-white coat that requires regular brushing but allows them to survive as an outdoor dog in cold conditions. One great pyrenees will protect a small herd effectively, while larger ranches with larger herds may require more than one of these dogs.